In addition to providing emergency fire services to the people of Boone County and the city of Columbia for almost four decades, the Boone County Fire Protection District has provided the public with plenty to talk about.
Over the past several years, the Fire District has been at the center of several controversies. There have been lawsuits over the questionable firing of employees; the district lost its bomb squad because of a false application for re-certification; and most recently, it was alleged that the Fire District may have misused up to $752,453 of Federal Emergency Management Agency funding.
This year, however, may be the beginning of a new era for the Fire District. It is searching for a new fire chief after Steve Paulsell, who had been with the Fire District for 38 years, retired last year, leaving Scott Olsen as interim chief. According to board member Shelly Dometrorch, the consulting firm took applications for the position identified 19 candidates from across the country, including Olsen.
In addition to this change in command, the district is working to improve its financial transparencyIn its budget proposal for 2010, for example there is much greater detail than in past years — a full 10 pages in length, compared with one or two pages in previous years.
How else might the Fire District make itself more accountable?